Sex differences in response to microbial infections, especially viral ones, may be associated with Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated responses by plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs).
In this study, we identified sex differences in human infant pDC interferon-α production following challenge with the TLR7/8 agonist R-848. Male pDC responses were significantly lower than those of females during early infancy. This difference may be attributed to the androgen surge experienced by males during the early infancy period. Pretreatment of human pDCs with dihydrotestosterone produced a significant reduction in interferon-α production following R-848 challenge.
Androgen-mediated regulation of pDC TLR7-driven innate immune responses may contribute to the observed sex differences in response to infections during early infancy.
Keywords: pDC, IFN-α, TNF-α, Infant, TLR7